During the late Eighties, the ‘Pontiac Builds Excitement’ tagline rang truer than ever as the General Motors division produced genuinely hot cars which enthusiasts lapped up. The Trans Am GTA with a potent 5.7-litre V8 was one such example and the specialy-built Turbo Grand Prix was another.
The much-loved nameplate was affixed to the brand new front-wheel-drive coupe which shared a lot of its oily bits with the Buick Regal and Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. It was a decent two-door but hardly thrilling to drive — but that changed when ASC/McLaren (the same team that created the awesome 1987 Regal GNX) entered the scene. It collaborated with Pontiac to build around 3,500 pumped-up variants. The TGP sure had the go to match the show (the flared fender arches, unique front and rear fascias, gold Cross-Lace alloys and functional bonnet louvers helped tell it apart to the regular model), which makes this rare car, painted either red or black, a great find today.
It was fully loaded and had everything from power windows, leather seats and AC while its most notable standard equipment was a ‘Heads Up Display’, the first for Pontiac. Under the bonnet sat a 3.1-litre six-cylinder which in stock form made a paltry 130 horses but it was poked and prodded by ASC/McLaren who also added a turbocharger and intercooler to give it a much healthier output of 205 horses. They also stiffened up the chassis and threw a set of sticky Goodyear Eagle GT ‘gatorback’ tyres on it. The four-speed auto was tweaked too (high-capacity clutches were added) and overall, its handling and performance was very good indeed; it could hit 100kph from rest in 7 seconds and a top speed of 205kph and on top of that it offered a very decent fuel efficiency of 7.5 litres per 100km.
Around Dh50,000 buys you one today — that is if you can find one...